Welcome to Galactablog

Welcome to Galactablog!

Have a look around, make yourself at home. There are lots of free resources: webinars and podcasts, handouts, journal articles, training modules, DYI breastfeeding tips, tricks and products, CERPs/CEUs and more. Topics related to lactation will be blogged about and shared. If you have an issue you’d like to highlight, write a Guest Post for Galactablog, I’d love to feature it and of course, give you all the credit and offer you the opportunity for shamless self-promotion. Check out Galactablog’s Pinterest Boards and YouTube Channel, both full of free breastfeeding-related videos for parents and professionals. All are free resources you can use to further your own lactation knowledge and to help those around you breastfeed.

If you’d like to be notified of new blog entries and resources posted, don’t forget to follow Galactablog via email. I don’t want you to miss out on anything. You can do this by clicking on the black “Follow” button on the right-hand side of this blog or at the very bottom. If you’ve enjoyed a post, tip or resource blogged about, don’t be shy. I’d be grateful if you share it via email, Facebook, Twitter – whatever outlet you fancy. Your sharing is caring and can help others!

If you’re interested in furthering your lactation training, check out the various lactation training opportunities under the “Training” tab in the header. I’m not in any way affiliated with any of the programs, I just want to disseminate the information out to those who need it. I’d love to post reviews of lactation training programs, so for those of you who’ve taken these trainings, please write a review so we can help others decide what program and options will best fit their needs. If you know of a program I’ve left out, please send the info my way. Lactation programs ARE reading the reviews published.

I look forward to working collaboratively in order to create FREE resources accessible worldwide to help not only my fellow lacties, but to help encourage breastfeeding.

Stay tuned for more, xx

Lactation Lessons From Leanna – FREE Ebook Promotion!

lessons from leanna picLeanna Mae Sexton has just published a new breastfeeding book, Lactation Lessons From Leanna. It can be purchased on Amazon here. More awesome news! She is offering a FREE Ebook promotion from June 28th to July 8, 2016.  Yes, you read that right. Absolutely free! You can download the FREE Ebook version (in pdf form) here but you better hurry, it’s only free for a few more days.

In this blog post, Leanna reveals why her book is the “ultimate” breastfeeding book and what makes it unique.

Do you want to know more about a certain breastfeeding topic? Leanna is welcoming comments and feedback on her recently released book. Or consider writing a review for “Lactation Lessons from Leanna” on Amazon or Goodreads.

“Lactation Lessons From Leanna”
Guest Post by Leanna Mae Sexton
July 5, 2016

Lactation Lessons From Leanna has everything you need to know about lactation, but it’s different than the rest. Instead of writing it like a novel, this book has been written in lessons similar to a Q&A. Nobody wants to have to flip through hundreds of pages to find the answer to their question. Flip to the detailed outline in the beginning of the book and easily be able to find the topic you have in mind. It’s extremely organized. It’s easy to read. Information is clear and straight to the point. Lists are bullet pointed for quick referencing. This book will bring clarity to all your lactation questions.

When asked the reasons why I wrote this book, it is because I wanted an easy to understand reference for all education levels. I noticed most breastfeeding books are written like novels with a vague table of contents. You have to flip through hundreds of pages to hunt for your answer. I wanted to write something more like a Q&A. I made an outline of all the topics discussed at the beginning of the book. This book is an extremely organized easy read that anyone can reference.

My goals are to improve lactation education in every home. I would love to see this book being recommended by lactation professionals and obstetric staff. It is a dream of mine to get it in hospital gift shops and maternity units.

leanna profile image

Leanna Mae Sexton is an author, activist and a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist. Want to know more about Leanna? Follow her on Facebook, Tweet with her on Twitter and Pin with her on Pinterest.

Babies and the Art of Sucking

While completing an online lecture via Lactation Education Resources (LER), Jane Bradshaw, RN, BSN, IBCLC stated something so eloquently in one of her lectures that I couldn’t help but share it with my fellow lacties.

One of the most common questions (and concerns and fears) new mothers consistently have is, “Do I have enough milk? Why does my baby want to suck all of the time? This MUST mean I don’t have enough milk!” This quote not only sums up a baby’s biological need and desire to suckle simply and beautifully but it also empowers a breastfeeding mother to know that yes, she can make enough milk to meet her infant’s needs.

final sucking instinct quote

Photo used with permission. Copyright © 2016 Galactablog and Tamara Drenttel Brand.



Mom2Mom Global: Breastfeeding Peer Support for Military Families

By: Amy Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC, Executive Director of Mom2Mom Global

February 2, 2016

Research has shown time and again that peer support is one of the most effective ways to help breastfeeding mothers meet their goals.  We know that breastfeeding is a “right-brained” activity, that must be observed to be learned, and that, historically through much of human history, women learned how to breastfeed by being around breastfeeding mothers, typically in their own communities from mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends.  

Current American culture is at a crossroads.  After several decades of bottle and formula feeding prevalence, breastfeeding is only just now beginning the return to being an accepted, normal feeding practice for babies and young children.   And it’s hard, we have growing pains.  Moms all over the US feel lost and confused and are often unsure of what to do when breastfeeding their children.  

For military families, it’s even harder.  Not only do we struggle with whatever our internalized cultural beliefs are about breastfeeding, but we also don’t have our close female friends and family nearby to help with a new baby.  Many families have a Permanent Change of Station (PCS)–or the civilian word, move–during a pregnancy, leaving a mama with a new baby in a new place, without a support system of friends nearby.  Often, due to deployments, temporary duty assignments, trainings, or the needs of the military, we don’t even have our partners with us.   I have a half-baked conspiracy theory that the reason Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) want your due date is so they can immediately cut orders to either deploy or PCS within a month of having a new baby!    

For Active Duty mamas, the challenges can be even harder.  They have the difficult task of working to establish a breastfeeding relationship and build up a pumping routine, with the added pressure of, depending on the service branch, as little as 6 weeks of “convalescent leave” (only the Navy and Marine Corps offer maternity leave) and the need to return to physical fitness standards and cope with the demands of a military career—all while breastfeeding.

Within this context, Mom2Mom Global offers support, friendship, and networking. Started in 1999 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Mom2Mom Global is a military breastfeeding peer support organization that provides individual and group support to help new mothers meet their own personal breastfeeding goals.  In 1999, one of the pediatricians at LRMC, Dr. Laura Place, chatted during an office visit with the mother of one of her patients, Mrs. Claire Louder.  Mrs. Louder was a breastfeeding mother, and her husband, Dr. David Louder, was the head of maternal-infant medicine at LRMC.  Dr. Place shared that she was seeing a concerning trend. Many moms in the community who wanted to breastfeed were starting off well in the hospital, but by the time they came for the baby’s first well-baby check (at the time, 2 weeks postpartum), breastfeeding was not going well.  Moms lacked adequate resources and support for even basic questions about normal newborn behavior, so by the two-week mark, many had simply given up on breastfeeding altogether.  Dr. and Mrs. Louder had worked with the WIC Peer Counseling program in Texas, so they were familiar with the impact peer support can make on breastfeeding outcomes. Together with Dr. Place and Mary Reidy, a registered nurse in the Mother-Baby Unit, they developed Mom2Mom’s hallmark program, Peer Mentors.

A Mom2Mom Peer Mentor is a mother who has breastfed for a minimum of 6 months and considers it to be a positive experience.  These mothers take a one-day free training, where they learn the basics of lactation and the counseling skills to help pregnant and breastfeeding mothers define and meet their own individual goals.  Mom2Mom strives to provide Mentors who have successfully breastfed through a wide variety of different situations, to offer the benefit of peer support from the perspective of someone who’s “been there, done that.”  

Some examples of our Mentors:

  • Active Duty moms
  • Civilian working moms
  • Exclusively Pumping moms
  • NICU moms
  • Twin/Multiple moms
  • Tandem-nursing moms
  • Full-term breastfeeding moms
  • Moms who use a Supplemental Nursing System
  • Moms or babies with medical conditions or history that impact breastfeeding

Mentors provide phone, email, or online chat support to their mentees at the end of pregnancy and during the first few months after the baby is born.  A Mentor offers support, empathy, a listening ear, and a sounding board to help a new mother figure out strategies that will work for her baby and her family.   Mentors are trained to recognize symptoms that may indicate the need for professional lactation advice, and to refer moms and babies to local resources to get help when necessary.

m2m members

Mom2Mom KMC members participate in a charity event, photo taken by friend, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Mom2Mom also offers group support, facilitated by trained lactation professionals, in both an online Facebook group and in-person through regularly scheduled meet-ups.  Each chapter holds weekly meet-ups that are open to anyone who supports breastfeeding.  Moms can come with their babies and older children to meet other families in the community and discuss any breastfeeding concerns that they have.  The structure varies from chapter to chapter, but is very informal and welcoming.  Trained lactation professionals are on hand to provide individual assistance for mothers and babies struggling with specific concerns, and the meet-ups offer a great place for mothers to practice nursing in public in a safe environment.  Friendships are born here, among both the mothers and the children.  Our closed, confidential online forums function as a 24/7 support group, as there is always someone up nursing a baby and posting to the group.  

We have a specific component, Mom2Mom Double Duty, for Active Duty and civilian working moms.  Double Duty holds meet-ups at times that fit into a working mom’s schedule.  Double Duty typically also has its own closed Facebook group where concerns are discussed specific to workplace and Active Duty breastfeeding families.  A working or Active Duty mom will be assigned a Peer Mentor who has successfully breastfed while working full time.

What makes Mom2Mom work?  Our mission to support and celebrate each mother’s individual breastfeeding journey.  Our moms help each other through the rough spots, provide encouragement, and celebrate every drop of milk as a gift.  They offer practical suggestions for obstacles, and cheer each other on, and respect that every mom and every baby is on a different path.  Our groups are “no-drama” zones, where differences of opinion are welcomed, but everyone’s unique experience is respected.  

We also are committed to providing up-to-date, accurate, evidence-based lactation information, so mothers can make informed decisions about infant feeding.  The leaders of each chapter are required to take additional lactation-specific training beyond the Mentor training and hold an accredited lactation credential.  We work with each chapter to help leaders attain this through scholarships and MyCAA.  We see a new level of mentorship arise as experienced lactation professionals work alongside newly-minted lactation specialists in military communities, sharing knowledge and helping mothers and babies.  

Over time, as mothers support each other, and new mothers come in and get support from the more seasoned moms, we are seeing a culture change at installations with Mom2Mom chapters.  When mothers feel supported in their communities, breastfeeding becomes a normal, accepted, unremarkable part of life.

Mom2Mom Holloman Big Latch On, photo courtesy of Journey Wings Photography, Holloman AFB, NM

Mom2Mom Holloman Big Latch On, photo courtesy of Journey Wings Photography, Holloman AFB, NM

Our longest-running flagship chapter, Mom2MomKMC, still operates in the Kaiserslautern Military Community in Germany.  In addition, there are active chapters at Fairchild AFB in WA, Holloman AFB in NM, Ft. Bragg in NC, San Diego, CA, SHAPE in Belgium, and USAG-Bavaria, Germany.  New chapters are planned or under formation at more military installations around the world.  We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  

In addition, part of Mom2Mom Global’s mission is to ensure that mothers can easily find support at any military installation.  To that end, we have a database of all breastfeeding support groups, military-wide.  We actively support other Peer Support programs, such as WIC Peer Counselors, Breastfeeding USA, La Leche League, and more.  If you are looking for a peer support group, or if you are part of a mother-to-mother support group (on or off base) that serves a military community, please let us know!

For more information on Mom2Mom, or to start a local chapter in your community, contact newchapter@mom2momglobal.org or follow us on Facebook.

Amy head shot

Amy Barron Smolinski Photo credit Gerelynn Trisl Photography

Amy Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC is the Executive Director of Mom2Mom Global, an international breastfeeding peer support organization that seeks to address the unique needs of breastfeeding families in the U.S. military.  She is an Army wife, and a breastfeeding mother.  

This article was originally published as a guest post on Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, a blog and website dedicated to supporting Active Duty breastfeeding mothers, and is shared here with permission.  You can view original article here.

Editor’s note: February 5, 2016 – Since the publication of this article, the military’s maternity leave has increased to 12 weeks fully paid maternity leave. You can read more about the policy change here.

How a Simple Candy Dispenser Can Help Teach a Wide, Deep Latch

A shallow latch is more often than not the cause of sore nipples and nipple damage. The importance of a wide, deep latch (mouth open at a 160 degree angle) and chin touching breast first is an important concept to portray to breastfeeding families (and those intending to breastfeed). I am always on the hunt for new and innovative ways to describe this image, particularly when I am trying to troubleshoot over the telephone or working with a mother who speaks English as a Second Language.

Fortunately, Angela Love-Zaranka, BA, IBCLC, RLC, in her “latching and positioning” pez 3lecture for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) Nurse, Physician and Staff Training offered by Lactation Education Resources (LER), has provided yet another fantastic tool I can add to my repertoire. It’s simple, brilliant and cheap (and chances are, if you have a little kid at home, it’s free). What is this magic tool you say? It’s a Pez Candy Dispenser. Yes, you read that right!

Angela explains, the “baby’s head looks like a Pez Dispenser coming to the breast helps parents understand the concept of bringing baby’s chin to breast first.” Thanks Angela! Now the fun and most difficult part – picking out which Pez Dispenser you want to use for demonstrations.800px-Hello_Kitty_PEZ_dispenser_open_II

Do you have a nifty trick that makes your life as a lactation specialist (or one aspiring to be) easier? Well, please don’t be shy! Please share it with Galactablog and we’ll share it with all of our loyal followers. Of course, we promise you full credit for your brilliancy. Contact us here or at galactablog{at}gmail{dot}com.


Lactation Program Review: Lactation Education Resources (LER) Lactation Consultant Training Program & Breastfeeding Specialist Certificate

Lactation Program Review: 

Lactation Education Resources’ (LER)

Lactation Consultant Training Program

with Breastfeeding Specialist Certificate 

Reviewer: Anonymous

December 10, 2015

Year enrolled in Program: 2015

How long did it take you to complete the program? 9 months

Certification or Certificate Offered – Breastfeeding Specialist certificate

Delivery of Program – Completely online

Books & Materials Required – The textbook Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 5th Ed is required by LER. Materials are all online power point presentations and lectures.

Cost of Program (Including books, materials, application fees, etc.) – $716

# of L-CERPs, Nursing Contact Hours, CEUs, CPEs, etc. offered – 90 L-CERPs, 90 Nursing Contact Hours and 90 CPE Level II.

Do this program’s hours meet partial or full requirements for the IBCLC exam’s lactation specific training requirement?

Yes, it meets the full 90 hour IBCLC lactation education requirement.

What did you like about the program?

  • It’s online!
  • You have up to 12 months to complete it.
  • No schedule to follow.
  • Clinical video modules were more helpful and clinical scenarios were useful.

What did you dislike about the program?

  • The lectures were outdated and sometimes had misinformation.
  • The main mode of education was clicking through slides with little to no interaction. Had to click for every single slide, which was annoying.
  • No workbook or actual assignments.
  • Content was moderate. I felt I learned as much from LER’s training as from my La Leche League (LLL) training.

What would you change about the program?

  • Update the lectures.
  • Need to have innovative content delivery and improved interaction with varied delivery mode.
  • Incorporate better accountability for the student. It’s easy to just click through slides and not get much out of it. This sets a low bar for expectations in lactation education.

How rigorous/time consuming did you find the program?

Not rigorous. Easily completed at night after kids in bed.

Would you recommend this program to others?

Not really. I just don’t think I got that much out of it other than the “check mark” of having completed the 90 hours. I think it needs updating and needs to require students to learn and work a little more.

Knowing what you know now, would you take this program again? 

No. Wish I had done the Childbirth International (CBI) program. It takes longer and requires more, but I think it has more accountability with an actual person following your progress. I would have learned more instead of just clicking mindlessly through slides.

Do you feel the course and/or certification helped you obtain your goals?

Yes- I got my 90 hours, but I don’t feel I learned terribly much, which is sad.

Does your program/credential require you to recertify? If so, how long does the credential last and what is required to recertify? No, we don’t have to recertify.

Would you like to write a review of a Lactation Training Program that you’ve taken? If so, don’t be shy! You can access the review form directly from Galactablog. Or directly online via Google Forms here.

See here for more information on LER’s lactation training programs, along with comparison of similar lactation training programs.

**Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Galactablog. It’s important to note that these views are not the only source of information about this particular lactation training program.

Words from the Wise: Do’s & Don’ts of Running a Private Lactation Practice

 Guest Post By Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC, RLC   Brandy 2

In private practice, you are vulnerable. You are entering someone else’s home that you’ve never been to before. They may know about you, what you look like, about your family and more through your website or business Facebook page; however, you know nothing about them, except that they have a baby.  Just like in your mothering, listen to your instincts.  Google the address you are heading to BEFORE the day of the consult – not on your way there. If you have any sort of “funny feeling” you can say no. This is a relationship you are beginning and you have half of the say.

Blank and DOs and DON'Ts memo papers attached with green and pink pins.

  • Do not go to a home of someone you have not talked with. If you have only spoken with a male, never heard a mother’s voice or had all contact via text with a male, don’t go to the home. I did this once.  Exactly once.  I called the midwife I was working with and told her my mistake. She said to keep my phone in my hand with 911 dialed and my finger on Send OR simply cancel the appointment.  When I arrived at the condo, there was construction on the front so a large piece of plastic was over the door. A male answered the door and to the left of the door were three pairs of men’s shoes. I insisted he go up the stairs first and my heart stopped pounding when I saw a baby swing. I should not have put myself into that position.
  • Do not go to a home you feel weird about, have a funny vibe about or just plain do not want to go to.  You reserve the right to not service a client. Listen to yourself, your instincts and heart.
  • Do not say yes to someone you should say no to. You can say no to clients just like they can say no to you.
  • Do not leave yourself in an uncomfortable position. I had a client who laughed when I was finishing our very long 2.5 hour consult when I told her I would need my fee and needed to finish with her for the day. She said, “You expect payment?!” I responded, “Yes, we discussed it over the phone and my fee is $XXX.” She replied, “You get paid through the hospital, they sent you here.” I reminded her I was not from the hospital or affiliated in anyway with the hospital. She did write me a check and I deposited it immediately.
  • Do not go to the hospital as a private IBCLC. You don’t have privileges there. You don’t belong there. Your role is in home support.

    Do not talk about your family, your kids, your schedule, your breastfeeding experience. None of that matters. This is about the mother. The very needy mother in front of you, not you. If she asks, keep your answers simple. How many kids do you have? 3 boys. How long did you nurse your boys? Over a year each. Quickly bring the subject back to her: What is your breastfeeding goal?

Blank and DOs and DON'Ts memo papers attached with green and pink pins.

  • Do wear a name tag when you get out of the car before you enter a client’s house.
  • Do introduce yourself the minute the client answers the door.  Acknowledge everyone in the room including grandparents and especially a dad. Do use everyone’s name while talking to them, including the baby’s.
  • Do have the client sign a consent form first. Every time you see her. Every client you see.
  • Do give the parents a receipt for payment and any health reimbursement forms they can submit for possible reimbursement for your services. Any time our lactation codes get in front of the insurance companies, it is an opportunity.
  • Do wear business casual WASHABLE clothes. Jeans or shorts are not appropriate. Present yourself as a business person. But be sure everything you wear can be washed due to dog hair, baby spit, baby poop, baby drool and mommy tears. wash hands
  • Do wash your hands before touching the baby!
  • Do have boundaries and KEEP them. If you decide you don’t take texts or phone calls after 8 pm, do not take a call at 8:05 pm. If you don’t work on Sundays, do not do doctor reports or go over your finances.
  • Do go on online support/help forums, Facebook pages of La Leche League, birth worker groups and such. You can get referrals this way, learn about midwives in your area and develop relationships with the people you need for referrals.

But Do NOT get anxious, nervous and distraught if you see YOUR clients reaching out for more help other than yours. Social media is a means for mothers to get support. Some mothers need a lot of support and from different sources. Do NOT question your ability if she wants another opinion or reaches out for more ideas. Just know the ONE negative comment can hurt more than three referrals or satisfied clients.

  • Do take a vacation. Change your voice mail message, and put on your vacation responder on your email. If you are lucky enough to have another IBCLC in the area you can trust, ask her if you can refer people to her for that time and leave her number on your voicemail. Birth workers give and give and give. We need to  take a break and to recharge too.
  • Do continue your education. Either through CERPS or individual study, it is important to stay up-to-date in our field. Connect with other professionals and learn from them. Enroll in online breastfeeding conferences such as iLactation and Gold Lactation.  

Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC runs In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC. Look for her on Facebook. Stay tuned for part 4 coming soon.

Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, do’s and don’ts, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog{at}gmail{dot}com.

Lactation Program Review: Union Institute & University

Lactation Program Review: 

Union Institute & University’s 

MA in Health & Wellness with a Concentration in Lactation Studies

By Anonymous 

November 20, 2015

What year did you enroll in the program? 2012

How long did it take you to complete the program? 2.5 years

Degree, Certification or Certificate OfferedMaster of Arts (MA) Degree in Health & Wellness with a Concentration in Lactation Studies. Union Institute & University (UI & I) also offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Maternal & Child Health with a major in Human Lactation.

Delivery of Program – Online

Books & Materials Required – Via partnership with The Healthy Children Project, Inc. (HCP), the program requires you to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) in order to do your clinical hours.

Cost of Program (Including books, materials, application fees, etc.) – $40,000+

Do this program’s hours meet partial or full requirements for the IBCLC exam’s lactation specific training requirement? Yes. This program fulfills the entire lactation education requirement needed to sit for the IBCLC exam.

What did you like about the program?

I liked having classmates who were also working in lactation that I could bounce ideas off of. It was nice to not have to explain what a “lactation consultant” is over and over again. I still keep in touch with many of these students and consider them to be trusted colleagues.

What did you dislike about the program?

Overall, there were quite a few things I disliked about the UI&U program.

  • The Lactation faculty consisted of two professors who seemed to play “good cop/bad cop” with the students.
  • The program offered no help whatsoever in finding a placement for internship hours, and I was told at one point that I couldn’t complete my hours in the state where I live – when I was already halfway through the program!
  • I felt that we received very little instruction as to how to complete assignments.
  • In our final semesters, many of us scrambled to answer others’ questions on the online message board as the instructors very rarely checked in.
  • I was often confused and lost, and when I spoke with faculty I was told that I was doing things wrong.

What would you change about the program?

  • I strongly feel that this program should help their students to gain internship placements. So many of my classmates had their schooling delayed by a semester or more because they couldn’t find anywhere to earn their internship hours.
  • This program sorely needs more involved faculty members and a better designed curriculum.

How rigorous/time consuming did you find the program?

I finished my degree in 2.5 years while usually being enrolled 3/4 or full-time, working part-time, and taking care of my 3 kids including one who was born during my program. At times the program was very time consuming (mostly dealing with internship hours and when writing my thesis) but for the most part, I was able to complete it during nap times and during one full day of school a week.

Would you recommend this program to others?

For the most part no, I would not recommend this program. If you are looking solely for a program to meet Pathway 2 requirements and give you the knowledge to pass the IBLCE exam, look elsewhere. If you are already an IBCLC, if you would like to specialize in breastfeeding research, or if you have a deep interest in gaining your graduate degree within the lactation field and you are highly self-directed and self-motivated, then yes, I’d recommend this program.

Knowing what you know now, would you take this program again? 

No, I would not take this program again. It’s very hard to admit that you feel you made a mistake that cost your family almost $50,000. There have to be better ways to get meet IBLCE requirements, which was my main purpose in joining this program. I am left with huge student loans and a bad taste in my mouth.

Do you feel the course and/or certification helped you obtain your goals?

I know that the course helped me, on paper, to meet IBLCE’s requirements before sitting for the exam. I’m not convinced that the education I received really fit the bill of IBLCE’s intentions when setting those requirements.


Does your program/credential require you to recertify? No. My Master’s degree never expires!

Would you like to write a review of a Lactation Training Program that you’ve taken? If so, don’t be shy! You can access the review form directly from Galactablog. Or online via Google Forms here.

**Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Galactablog. It’s also important to note that these views are not the only source of information about this particular lactation training program. See here for similar Lactation Training Programs that also offer clinical practice components and here for general Lactation Training and/Certification Programs without the clinical component. 

Words from the Wise: Why I do What I do – Private Practice Lactation

maryGuest Post by Mary Unangst, BS, IBCLC

My name is Mary Unangst and I am an IBCLC in private practice in Tampa, Florida. I own Sweet Songs Breastfeeding, LLC. I see women one-on-one in the comfort of their homes providing breastfeeding support and lactation management. Up until recently I was hosting a weekly support group. The women that attend are a joy to be around and many friendships have already been forged. I enjoy teaching breastfeeding classes, but I’ve only taught a handful and most were while I was employed with WIC (prior to becoming an IBCLC) as a peer counselor.

My Motivation

I was inspired to start this career, I think like many other lactation professionals, after a difficult experience nursing my first. My birth didn’t go as planned and then breastfeeding was incredibly challenging and painful. My world was completely upside down. I credit my (eventual) success in part to my supportive husband, but also to the wonderful IBCLCs who saw me several times a week for the first few weeks. I knew from that point on that I wanted to help other women achieve breastfeeding success and reach their personal goals. If breastfeeding meant so much to me as a woman and a mother, then it surely meant that to others. My passion was born!

My Background

My background is actually in linguistics. I served in the Air Force for 10 years before moving onto become a lactation consultant. It’s with that background that I come to this field. I enjoy adhering to the evidence-based research that is necessary to provide good care and I see myself, much like in a military community, as part of a larger female tribe. I get a lot from empowering women on their motherhood journey. I went from peer mentor, to CLC, to ALC and then eventually completed my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Maternal Child Health, majoring in human lactation through Union Institute and University and passed the exam to become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) shortly thereafter.

My Private Practice Challenges

  • Marketing – It’s expensive and time-consuming, but a very necessary part to a thriving business. As the months pass, I’ve learned to make marketing and advertising a priority.
  • Google continues to be my biggest source for clients so maintaining an updated and captivating website with good SEO has paid off.
  • Insurance companies and their interpretation of the Affordable Care Act is another struggle. I offer superbills to mothers for reimbursement, but it unfortunately doesn’t always happen. I’m lucky enough to contract with another lactation company (more detail below) so I can see Aetna clients for multiple visits at no out-of-pocket cost to mom.

The biggest challenge for me as of late is finding a work-life balance. I feel a real sense of urgency to help the moms that contact me. They are often in excruciating pain and on the brink of quitting breastfeeding. I have to remember that my first commitment is to my family (I have two small children and an amazing and supportive husband) and only after my family commitments are met can I then shift my focus to work. It’s taking time, but I’m getting there.

My Advice 

  • Know the needs of your target audience I find that women tend to prefer an in-home lactation visit, especially in the early postpartum weeks. So most of the help we provide to women is one-on-one in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Fill a need in your community – In addition to in-home visits, we did hold office space as well. In fact, we were considered the first and only free-standing outpatient breastfeeding clinic! We started out by renting an office space in a prenatal wellness center (offering prenatal yoga, acupuncture, massage and chiropractic care) for a 3 month trial period. I shared the space with my colleague, Trish, so we split the rent – making it quite affordable.  We didn’t hold office hours, but instead saw clients by appointment only.
  • Network! Network! Network! When we moved to Tampa three years ago, I hit the ground running. I attended breastfeeding seminars, conferences and starting networking with others in the field as much as possible even though I had not established my business yet. Fast forward to today and I think the connections I made are really paying off. I recently (and officially) added my friend and colleague, Trish Hanning to my business. She is an experienced and passionate lactation consultant with nearly a decade in the field. It has been incredible to have her as a mentor and a partner. I actually met her when I interned under her at the hospital her in Tampa. And, you know what? After I started my private practice business, she called me to ask if we could work together!
  • Collaborate and establish relationships with other professionals in your field – When Trish and I joined forces, she was already contracting for another lactation consultant (someone I had met through a shadowing program three years ago). After a few months of us working together, our client load was increasing.  The next thing I know this other lactation consultant was calling to ask me if I would be interested in contracting for her as well! Trish recommended me to her and she was impressed with the work I had already done in the community. As a midwife and IBCLC she was able to become a preferred provider for a couple insurance companies and now as an independent contractor for her I can see those insurance clients as well and she signs off as the supervising physician.
  • Don’t be afraid to DIY – When I first set up my business, I designed and purchased business cards for my clients. I also designed larger post cards to disseminate at expos, pediatric offices and birth centers. I have found that most of my business is generated from women simply searching Google for lactation help in our city. I also designed my website myself using Wix. It was tedious work, but not terribly difficult. I enjoy having the control to tweak it as I see necessary (new services, offers, updated pictures, etc.). I have gotten positive feedback from my clients saying the site is cute and easy to use.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone entering the lactation field would be to get involved in your breastfeeding community; whatever that means for your location. Find mentors, be a mentor, make change and make a difference. This is a group effort; we don’t all know everything! I truly enjoy what I do and I’m grateful every day that I am able to do it!

This is a guest post from Mary Unangst, BS, IBCLC.  She runs Sweet Song Breastfeeding, LLC in Tampa Bay, FL. You can find her on Facebook here.

Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog{at}gmail{dot}com.


Words from the Wise: The nitty gritty of starting your own private lactation practice

 Guest Post By Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC   Brandy 2

I want to begin by giving a ton of credit to La Leche League (LLL)La Leche League is the gold standard in breastfeeding peer support groups much like a specialist achieving the IBCLC credentials is the gold standard of lactation support. I was a LLL Leader for 10 years, including some time after I became an IBCLC. La Leche League helped me learn how to mother through breastfeeding. I went to a meeting every single month for three months with my first son and left the meetings thinking: “Ok! I can do this for one more month, so I can get to the next meeting. They were my life line.” But what LLL does in addition is help empower mothers – this is the coolest part of the organization to me. La Leche League is the core of my counseling and how I practice.

Read! Read! Read! – To dig deeper into the Art of Private Practice, I always refer back to The Lactation Consultant in Private Practice: The ABCs of Getting9780763710378 Started by Linda J. Smith. Linda knows what she is talking about. The book is a bit outdated as our world is more tech-savy now. In reality, I text mothers more than I talk to them. There has been talk of Face Timing, though I haven’t established the virtual video chat connection yet in my practice. I don’t however, charge for the extra communication. Any texting, phone calls or emails after the initial consult is included in my one-time fee. I don’t charge by the hour.

The Importance of Follow-up – 75% of my job is playing the role of cheerleader.  In order to maintain personal boundaries, I don’t answer texts after a certain time at night, though I do answer calls and texts every single day – even on Sundays. Boundaries are important! If you are not able to take a mother’s call because you are on the soccer field and you couldn’t possibly hear her, then call her back when you are able to give her ample time, energy and attention.

Making a Connection – I mentioned in a previous post about getting in touch with Pediatricians and Ob/Gyns in your area. You may ask how to do this! Well, this means making muffins, delivering flowers and walking in with a hand full of business cards or pamphlets and leaving them for the office staff (just like drug representatives do every day). I recommend repeating this during a random holiday and again during World Breastfeeding Week. Establish a relationship. Bring them lunch. Offer free breastfeeding classes to their staff during lunch. Get in front of your audience and those you want to refer your services.

Connect with birth groups, support groups, childbirth classes, maternity stores, birth and postpartum doulas, local hospitals and hospital-based IBCLCs, online forums and anyone birth related.  These people and groups ARE your referrals. Your business thrives on referrals. Send thank you notes for referrals in the mail – the old fashioned way. Give a shout out to groups on Facebook for referrals. Constantly thank the people who give you work.

How do I know who to connect with? Get out an old fashioned paper map, decide on your service area and which Pediatricians and Ob/Gyns to approach. Check out ILCA.org for other private practice IBCLCs in the area and connect with them. Territory is important and if you are in an area that already has an established IBCLC, approach her first before putting out your business sign. It is important to have a community you can rely on when you are on vacation. It is important to have someone you can refer to. It is important not to fight for a service area with a reputable established IBCLC. You can be an asset to her too!

Choose the Right Name –  I wanted people to know what I do. I wanted a mom to say, this lactation consultant comes to me and helps me with breastfeeding. I wanted a logo that made sense. I didn’t want to pay $200 to someone to make it. I had help and input from my husband. My goal with the S at the end of In Home Lactation SpecialistS, LLC has always been to hire more IBCLCs who go out and do the hands-on work. I think young women relate best to other young women. As I age, I hope to hand the day-to-day hands-on work to the lactation consultants I hire to do what work I do currently.

I will be very picky about IBCLCs I hire. La Leche League is my history and shaped me into the IBCLC I am. I tend to share the same philosophy as Leaders I work with. Two local LLL groups in my area refer to me with technical cases and those that are outside their scope. I appreciate the clients and the business for sure.

But what I value the most from the relationship is the reciprocal respect. I value what LLL  gives every breastfeeding mother. I am not in competition with LLL. This organization does an amazing job supporting mothers. I appreciate what they can give. I don’t want to be going on home consultations when I am 50 years old. This means I have 8 short years to foster a relationship with good solid private practice IBCLCs AND grow them within my business.

The Wrap-Up  – Like mothering, you need to do what works best for you, your family AND your business. This type of work can be flexible, but I do work weekends and nights in the summer so I can be home most of the day when my kids are home. This work is repetitive – do you know how many times in a consult I explain supply and demand? This work is all-encompassing when you have a mother you know would stand on her head if that would fix her problem yet you just can’t seem to put your finger on that one thing that will help her. How I run my business, facilitate my business and grow my business will not be the same as how you will. But that’s okay! This is your business. Figure out what works best for you and go with it.

Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC runs In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC. Look for her on Facebook Stay tuned for part 3 coming soon.

Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, do’s and don’ts, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog{at}gmail{dot}com.

Lactation Program Review: Healthy Children’s Lactation Counselor Training Course & CLC Certification

Lactation Program Review: 

Healthy Children’s

Certified Lactation Counselor Certificate Training Program

By Laura Wauford, MSN, APRN, CLC

November 4, 2015

What year did you enroll in the program? 2014

How long did it take you to complete the program? 5 days

Certification or Certificate Offered – Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC)

Delivery of Program – In-person

Books & Materials Required – The Pocket Guide for Lactation Management by Karin Cadwell, 2nd edition (can be purchased on Amazon from about $25-$35).

Cost of Program (Including books, materials, application fees, etc.) – About $650 total with class and book.

# of L-CERPs, Nursing Contact Hours, CEUs, CPEs, etc. offered – 45 Nursing contact hours, L-CERPs, CPEs; 4.5 CEUs for CNMs

Do this program’s hours meet partial or full requirements for the IBCLC exam’s lactation specific training requirement? Yes, partial (45 hours)

What did you like about the program?

  • After this course, I had a much better understanding of the process of milk production and a pretty good handle on how to get breastfeeding off to a good start.

What did you dislike about the program?

  • The class focused a LOT on what the latch *looks* like, but of course it matters much more what it feels like than what it looks like.
  • They do not teach reverse pressure softening technique.
  • They are not clear on what a CLC’s scope of practice should be.
  • The didactic portion of the course includes a ton of info on breastfeeding immediately after birth and in the first days/hours, but then the role-playing practice portion tackles problems that occur later in the nursing relationship that they have not exactly trained their students to handle.

What would you change about the program?

  • Make it much clearer what a CLC’s Scope of Practice (SOP).
  • Update some things, make sure everything is up-to-date and evidence-based.

How rigorous/time consuming did you find the program?

If you can take a week off work, you can do this course.

Would you recommend this program to others?

Yes and no. I believe this program is a fantastic place to start for RN/LPNs who work in labor/delivery/postpartum/newborn nursery as well as outpatient nurses from OBGYN and pediatric offices. Nurses in those settings really need this info. For people wanting to provide solo support to breastfeeding mothers via a private practice or other route, this is not the right education for you.

Knowing what you know now, would you take this program again? 

I’m not sure, honestly. Probably not. I would probably have been more inclined to do the Breastfeeding Specialist credential (the full 90 hours online) from Lactation Education Resources (LER) or the 90 hour Comprehensive Lactation Course from Breastfeeding Outlook.

Do you feel the course and/or certification helped you obtain your goals?

Yes. I learned a lot and really did enjoy it. It also was the push my employer needed to allow me to spend more time with breastfeeding dyads, which I need for my clinical hours toward IBCLC.

Additional Comments/Concerns?

My biggest concern with this course is that I don’t think they are clear with students about what their limitations are after receiving this education. I see so many women finish the CLC course and then immediately start a private practice when they do not yet have the tools in their toolbox that they’ll need to truly support moms and babies. The majority of what is taught is identifying whether something is within expected limits or not, but not much is taught about managing things when they are not within expected limits, and someone who is going to take on a private practice needs to know how to manage a wide variety of problems.

Does your program/credential require you to recertify? If so, how long does the credential last and what is required to recertify? My CLC credential lasts is good for 3 years. Recertification takes 18 hours of continuing education.

Would you like to write a review of a Lactation Training Program that you’ve taken? If so, don’t be shy! You can access the review form directly from Galactablog. Or online via Google Forms here.

**Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Galactablog. It’s also important to note that these views are not the only source of information about this particular lactation training program. See here for similar Lactation Training Programs. If you’re interested in Lactation Training Programs that offer a clinical practice component, see here.